By Diane Emeott-Korzen | New Pelican Writer
Deerfield Beach – Lee and Deborah Bigbee have a problem with the security lights installed about 18 months ago outside their Penthouse North condo, shining into their living and sleeping spaces and keeping them awake at night.
The lights were installed for security and safety purposes, about 25 or 30 feet from the ground. The Bigbees live on the third floor.
HOA President Jim Murray said the lights are shining away from the Bigbees but are reflecting off the palm trees.
The couple alleges the lights were installed without permits. “The homeowners association here [at Penthouse North] put up lights right outside our window. And they did it without a permit.”
On Nov. 15, 2022, a building permit was filed to install two LED wall pack fixtures on the building. Murray says the permit is still pending. He estimates the lighting was installed in May of 2021.
Failure to obtain a permit can result in the offender paying double the usual fee.
“These lights were installed to replace lights that stopped working. It was a minor installation. I was not aware a permit was necessary,” Murray said.
According to Planning and Development Services Director Eric Power, the type of lighting determines if a permit is necessary. “A simple rule is, if you can plug into an outlet, it does not need a permit. But if you need to mount it to a wall with screws or some other permanent means, a permit may be required,” he said. “Also, please note that excessive lighting can be a yard encroachment and if you have neighbors complaining about the security lights, it can become an issue with the city.”
On Nov. 29 the city sent notice of a code violation to Penthouse North Association, Inc. regarding Bigbees complaint, stating the need for correction for “light encroachment.” It states, “Please make the proper arrangements to shield the light direction into the unit.”
The document sets a Jan. 25 hearing before a special magistrate if the violations are corrected by then. The Bigbees have hired a lawyer “to help guide us in this battle.” Lee said he wants to make sure he is doing things right and that the lawyer will seek a solution with the homeowners’ board.
Murray said he is aware of the deadline. “I’ve already made arrangements to have the lights changed. Regarding a timeline, “I know the permit was not closed out yet and I’m sure we will need a permit to make any changes.”
Murray said most people like the lights. The area is dark and there are no streetlights. Women were afraid to get out of their cars at night.
Lee Bigbee was one of the people sending emails to put in security lights after alerting the board that he saw teenagers trying door handles in the carport. Thieves will often crouch in between cars and try random door handles to see which vehicles are easy to access.
Asked if he had spoken with other neighbors to see if the lights are bothersome, Lee Bigbee said the person on the second floor comes here only two weeks a year; the person on the first floor keeps his blinds closed day and night.”